In the rich tapestry of life, we often find ourselves navigating through the ebbs and flows, searching for meaning and purpose. Amidst the chaos, a profound concept whispers to our souls: "Take what you need." This simple yet powerful mantra guides our spiritual journey, encouraging us to find abundance in every aspect of our lives.
From a spiritual point of view, the theory of taking what you need starts by understanding what you have in your life and appreciating it - maybe that's a close friend you can confide in, warm clothes for a cold day, satisfaction in the work you do or having nourishing food to eat. Once we take an inventory of "appreciations" in our daily lives, we can start to expand our thinking to other things, perhaps non-tangible things we would like to integrate - like compassion, patience, healing, faith, forgiveness, or love.
Before we get to the larger, abstract, and more difficult needs, we must learn to continue our ritual of daily apprecations. Here are five ways from a Zen path we can maintain our connection with what we need, what we can take, and ultimately, what we can share.
Embracing the Present Moment: Zen teaches us to embrace the beauty of the present moment to find solace in the here and now. In taking what we need from the moment, we let go of the burdens of the past and the anxieties of the future. A practical example is incorporating mindfulness into daily activities. When eating, savor each bite; feel the ground beneath your feet when walking. Do these actions without distraction. Eat without checking your email or scrolling through your social feed. Walk without listening to music. By immersing ourselves fully in the current moment, we take what we need — a sense of peace and connection with the unfolding now all around you.
Simplicity in Material Possessions: From a Zen perspective, the pursuit of material possessions often leads to unnecessary clutter in our lives. Take what you need, and let go of the rest. Can you be a minimalist in a maximalist world? Yes! Zen wisdom encourages us to discern what is truly essential. Consider decluttering your living space (donate reusable items like clothes, housewares, and furniture. Recycle what you can) and holding onto items that serve a purpose or bring joy. Inspired by Zen principles, minimalism can help create an environment free from unnecessary distractions, allowing us to focus on what truly matters. Shunryu Suzuki imparts this wisdom: "In the beginner's mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind, there are few." Cultivate a beginner's mind by embracing simplicity and recognizing the value in the essentials. 🙌 KEEP IT SIMPLE: The Essence of Zen Art: Embracing the Power of Simplicity
Silencing the Mind's Noise: Our minds are often filled with constant thoughts, worries, and distractions. Taking what you need in terms of mental clarity involves incorporating meditation into your daily routine. Start with just a few minutes of focused breathing. As you allow the mind's noise to settle, you create space for tranquility and insight. This daily practice becomes a valuable tool for navigating life's challenges with a calm and centered mind. Zen meditation teaches us to quiet the incessant chatter of the mind. Take what you need in terms of mental clarity and inner peace. "When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself," suggests Zen master Shunryu Suzuki. In letting go of mental clutter, we make space for profound insights. 🧘♂️ SIT LONGER: 7 Meditation Practice Suggestions
Non-Attachment and Liberation: The essence of Zen lies in non-attachment, the art of appreciating without clinging. Take what you need in terms of experiences and relationships, but release attachment to outcomes. For instance, when collaborating on a project, contribute your best efforts without fixating on personal recognition or outcomes. Approach relationships with openness and compassion, appreciating the joy of connection without clinging to expectations. This practice liberates you from the burdens of attachment and fosters a sense of freedom and contentment. In the words of Zen master Dogen, "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self. To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be actualized by myriad things." 🐦 GO DEEPER: Tips On How to Live With No Expectations
Finding Beauty in the Ordinary: Zen invites us to see the extraordinary in the ordinary, to take what we need from the simple joys of life. Cultivating an appreciation for ordinary moments transforms the mundane into the extraordinary. Consider the act of drinking a cup of coffee. Yes, on No Expectation the Podcast, we like our coffee. Take what you need from this simple ritual – the cup's warmth, the coffee's aroma, and the comforting sensation of each sip. By infusing mindfulness into daily activities, you find abundance in life's seemingly mundane and forgettable aspects, fostering a deep gratitude for the ordinary miracles that surround you. Zen master Ikkyu beautifully expresses this sentiment, "Many paths lead from the foot of the mountain, but at the peak, we all gaze at the single bright moon." In the ordinary, we find the extraordinary. 😋 TAKE A BIGGER BITE: Cooking with Presence: Exploring Dogen's Zen Kitchen as a Spiritual Practice
In weaving the practical examples into the fabric of daily life, the Zen perspective of "take what you need" becomes a lived experience. Embracing the present moment, simplifying material possessions, silencing the mind's noise, practicing non-attachment, and finding abundance in the ordinary are not just concepts but daily practices that lead to a more mindful, purposeful, and harmonious existence. As you integrate these principles into your life, may you discover the profound wisdom and tranquility that come from taking only what is truly essential. Perhaps once you've found all you need, you can share your abundance with others. In the words of Zen master Basho, "Seek not to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought." So, take what you need on this journey, and may it lead you to the wisdom sought by generations of seekers before you. #takewhatyouneed #zen #nonattachment #mediation #presentmoment #spirituality